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What are the consequences of a drunk driving charge in Iowa?

No matter what state you are in, there are penalties attached to drunk driving charges. In Iowa, if a law enforcement officer conducts a traffic stop and finds proof that the driver isn’t sober, then the driver may face an operating while intoxicated charge or OWI.

Drivers that have alcohol, drugs or mix of the two in their system at the time of their arrest can face an OWI offense. Specifically, for those who choose to drink and then get behind the wheel, there are penalties that one may endure immediately after their charge and for many years to come.

When am I too drunk to drive?

For almost all drivers in Iowa, if you take a breathalyzer test that reveals your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at .08%, then you are too drunk to drive according to state law. But if you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is at least .02% or you are driving a commercial vehicle and your BAC is at least .04%, then you have entered the roadway unlawfully.

For reference, this is what it may feel like to have BAC levels that could be illegal in Iowa:

  • At .02% you could feel relaxed or happy
  • At .04% you might feel warm, at ease and more likely to make bad decisions
  • At .08% you might feel unbalanced, experience blurry vision, slur your speech, experience a delayed reaction time and have a lack of reasoning or self-control

Essentially, feeling buzzed may lead you to a cold jail cell if you choose to drive yourself home after a night of drinks.

What if it’s my first offense?

First-time offenders don’t receive a warning for their reckless behavior. Rather, since an OWI is a criminal offense, suspects may face a slew of penalties, including:

  • Two days to one year of jail time
  • Fines up to $1,250
  • License revocation period of 180 days to a year

Even if you think you are tough enough for a maximum jail sentence or have ample resource to pay fines and other court and legal fees, an OWI charge can follow you. When you receive a mark on your criminal record, you might also miss out on future employment opportunities or have increased car insurance rates for many years.

Not only should you take a misdemeanor charge seriously, but you should consider the danger you put you and others in when you drive under the influence of alcohol. But if you need help sorting through your mistake of driving while drunk, then an experienced criminal attorney can help defend your rights.